Aria School - 19/01/2018

School Context

Aria School is a small rural school, located in the Waitomo District, King Country. The current roll is 52 students in Years 1 to 6, half of whom are Māori. The school’s mission statement is to ‘be the best we can be’. It aims to provide a place where children realise their full potential in all aspects of school life and where learning is a partnership between family, school and community. The school values learning, respect, community and participation, and safety. It prioritises strategic goals about literacy, numeracy, science, technology, social sciences, the arts, health, physical education, languages, social skills, inclusive education and e-learning. Specific targets for reading and writing are derived from the schools 2016 achievement data. The school aims to accelerate the progress of all children below the expected level in these curriculum areas.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board about outcomes for children in the following areas:

  • reading

  • writing

  • mathematics

Since the last ERO review a number of new trustees have joined the board. Professional learning and development for teachers has focused on literacy, mathematics, restorative practices and children with additional learning needs. Trustees’ training has focused on effective stewardship and internal evaluation. The school is a member of the Waitomo Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is strengthening its processes for achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. Achievement information over the last three years indicates that most students are achieving expected standards in reading and mathematics and that a large majority achieved well in writing. Māori students’ achievement in reading has remained consistent over this time and is similar to others in the school. In writing and mathematics, Māori students’ achievement is slightly lower than others in the school. Girls achieve at similar levels to boys in writing, and at lower levels in reading and mathematics. Patterns of achievement for all students have remained consistent between 2014 and 2016.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school responds well to students whose learning needs acceleration. The school has reading, writing and mathematics data for mid-year 2016 to mid-year 2017 for identified priority learners. This data for maths shows that the majority of Māori and other students in this group made accelerated progress. Some made accelerated progress in reading and writing.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

The principal is providing learning focused leadership. She sets clear directions for teaching and learning and promotes the use of internal and external evaluation for improvement. Well-established school values and restorative practices provide the foundation for calm environments that are conducive to learning and contribute to an inclusive and settled school culture. Teachers have engaged in purposeful professional learning and sharing focused on strengthening their responses to the learning needs of individual students, including those with additional learning needs.

School targets are informed by achievement data. Targets are specific to students needing to make accelerated progress in reading and writing. There is alignment between classroom and school-wide targets. Teachers collaborate and share responsibility for accelerating the achievement of learners across the school. Special programmes are well-supported by teacher aides who work in conjunction with the classroom teacher. They focus on addressing the learning needs of groups and individual children.

There are respectful and reciprocal relationships with parents and whānau. They are well informed about curriculum developments and teaching approaches. There is detailed reporting of individual student’s achievement and progress through written reports and teacher interviews. The school uses a range of effective tools and strategies to facilitate open communication with parents about student’s learning. Regular formal and informal opportunities enable parents to contribute to decisions about the curriculum, school direction and events.

The school’s curriculum is responsive to students’ learning needs and interests. A rich and well-designed local curriculum gives priority to literacy, mathematics, te reo and tikanga Māori, and the key competencies from The New Zealand Curriculum. The curriculum includes local history and places of significance to Māori. The arts, sport, and education outside the classroom in the local community and beyond enrich learning experiences. Digital technologies are well integrated to enhance classroom teaching and learning. Senior students enjoy a wide variety of leadership opportunities that contribute to the wellbeing and learning of other students, and to the life of the school.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence?

Monitoring of students’ progress and achievement needs strengthening. Teachers need to develop more regular and clearly documented processes for monitoring children’s progress and achievement, particularly for those whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.

Continuity of student’s learning pathways need strengthening. The principal and teachers recognise the need to develop more effective transition processes for children as they enter Aria School and move on to secondary school.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board and principal of the school completed the ERO board assurance statement and self-audit checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • finance

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Appraisal audit

In order to improve practice the principal and teachers need to fully implement the school’s performance management process and recently reviewed appraisal systems.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • leadership that is reflective and collaborative and is growing higher levels of teacher capability

  • clearly defined strategic goals and targets that provide a strong focus on equity and excellence

  • a contextually responsive curriculum that engage students in meaningful learning

  • respectful and reciprocal relationships between teachers, parents and whanau that result in strong learning partnerships.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, development priorities are in:

  • monitoring the progress of students to more specifically focus on acceleration and achievement

  • strengthening transitions for students to promote greater continuity of learning and coherent pathways.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

19 January 2018

About the school


Waitomo District, King Country

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing School (Years 1-6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 31 Boys 21

Ethnic composition

Māori 26
Pākehā 26

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

19 January 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review May 2010
Education Review June 2007